Here are this year’s Leica Women Foto Project Award winners

Ny-Alesund, the northernmost permanent settlement in the world and site of the largest laboratory for modern Arctic research. Overhead are the northern lights. (Anna Filipova)

Leica Camera USA, in conjunction with Women Photograph and Photoville, announced the 2023 winners of its Leica Women Foto Project Award on March 8, International Women’s Day.

I look forward each year to seeing the work of the winners. The results rarely disappoint, and this year is no exception. The winners — Anna Filipova of Britain, Eli Farinango of Canada, Greta Rico of Mexico and Mary F. Calvert of the United States — have all produced stunning projects, and we’re going to offer you a peek here at In Sight.

First up, we’ve got Anna Filipova’s project on Ny-Alesund, a town on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and the northernmost permanent settlement in the world.

Filipova’s photos are starkly beautiful renderings of a place most of us will never set foot in. Interestingly, it is also the site of the world’s largest laboratory for Arctic research.

Although unforgiving, the location is an important one, helping scientists keep tabs on global warming.

The next winning project comes to us from Greta Rico and is a meditation on the consequences of femicide in Mexico.

Rico’s black-and-white photos are intimately lyrical and full of empathy and connection.

She told Leica a little more about her project:

“In November 2017, the body of my cousin Fernanda was found on the street, the victim of femicide. This documentary project arises from this most intimate situation within my own family, and tells the story of my cousin Siomara, who became a substitute mother for her (at that time) 3-year-old niece, Nicole, whose mother was murdered. This project shows how femicide does not end with murder, but has psychosocial impacts that cause trauma in orphaned children, in mothers, sisters, grandmothers and aunts, who become substitute mothers because of gender violence in Mexico.”

Next is Eli Farinango’s project “Wilkay,” in which Farinango grapples with her own identity.

As she told Leica:

Wilkay is my personal narrative, and speaks about the resiliency of the heart and spirit. I share my story of transformation and healing from the abuse I’ve experienced at different times in my life, and the realities of being an indigenous woman in a patriarchal colonial society. In Kichwa, Wilkay means altar, and the process of creating this body of work is a ceremonial experience that weaves in my own spiritual practice, ancestral memory and my search for empowerment outside of the limitations placed on my body. As I continue further into the next chapter of my story, it is important to me that I share Wilkay as a nuanced indigenous feminist testimony of love, healing, resilience and empowerment.”

Farinango’s images are drenched in vivid color, creating an indelible sense of mood that elevates them and makes them all the more powerful.

Last, but of course not least, is a project by Mary F. Calvert on sexual abuse in the military and its link to suicides.

Calvert’s deeply probing black-and-white photos are always powerful, and this project is no exception. The sense of sadness and loss is extraordinarily palpable in her intimate and empathetic images.

Here’s what Calvert told Leica about her project:

“I will continue my long-term project on Military Sexual Trauma. For the past ten years, I have reported on the sexual abuse of women and men in the U.S. Armed Forces and the military’s pattern of blaming, harassing and discharging victims. For this current chapter, I will draw a causality link between the sexual assault of active-duty military personnel and veterans with a history of military sexual assault, and an increased rate of suicide among their number. I continue to address this issue because the story of the disregard and institutional abuse of people victimized by these crimes must be pursued with ongoing tenacity, to illuminate not only its continued existence but analyze its cause and effect.”

According to Leica’s photo blog, the Leica Women Foto Project Award “aims to strengthen the female perspective and its influence on today’s visual storytelling. The purpose is to encourage women photographers to reveal the significance of the female perspective.”

Each winner takes home $10,000 in prize money and receives a Leica SL2-S camera along with a Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

You can read more about this year’s awards here.